Israeli-Palestinian peace deal not up to Trump, former Israeli ambassador to US says

The role of the US in Middle-East peace process

President Donald Trump is trying to look at all the possibilities when talking about a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States told CNBC on Wednesday.

In a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, Trump avoided any explicit endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"What Trump is trying to do is offer a fresh look. I think as a negotiator, as a deal-maker he wants not to pre-empt himself and look at all the contingencies and all the possibilities," Daniel Ayalon said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

In fact, he doesn't think a two-state solution is off the table.

"If you read between the lines, it's not dead. But it is only one option among many options," he pointed out.

President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

However, an ultimate peace deal is not up to Trump, said Ayalon, who is also a former deputy foreign minister of Israel.

"It will be up to the parties," he said. "Yes, Israel will have to make concessions and we have made concessions."

At a joint news conference with Netanyahu on Wednesday, Trump vowed to work toward a peace deal but said it would require compromise on both sides and it would be up to the parties themselves ultimately to reach an agreement.

He also urged the Israeli prime minister to curb settlement activity.

Ayalon said an agreement will be hard to come by if issues, like that of settlements, are being "cherry picked."

"The settlement is one issue. There are other issues — of recognition, issue of borders, issue of Jerusalem, issue of the refugees … [and] security of course — if you put all of them together, you can negotiate," he said.

"If you go vertically, if you just cherry pick settlements and say, 'well let's do settlements' and all the onus on Israel, of course you cannot really move forward."

— Reuters contributed to this report.

Solving the Israeli–Palestinian conflict